FIH Pro League: Netherlands men dominate Spain; plucky Ireland succumb to Australia
Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Feb 13 (IANS) Jip Janssen added another two goals to his tally and extended his lead as top scorer of the event as the Netherlands handed European rivals Spain a comprehensive defeat in a crucial match in the FIH Hockey Pro League at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday.
The Dutch returned to winning ways after a shoot-out loss to hosts India a couple of days ago as they produced an assertive performance to beat Spain 3-0.
Earlier in the first match of the day, Ireland put up a brave fight at the start of their encounter against Australia, but could not prevent the Olympic silver medallists from romping to a 5-0 win.
Jip Janssen added to his tally as he extended his lead at the top of the goal scorers list. Both teams created half-chances in the first quarter, but it was Janssen who opened the scoring for the Dutch in the 15th minute with an unstoppable low drag flick. The Red Sticks produced some excellent opportunities in a high-energy start to the second quarter, but the Netherlands absorbed that pressure and then hit back hard in the 26th minute, Floris Middendorp cutting the Spanish defence apart with brilliant individual skill to the baseline before slipping his pass back to Duco Telgenkamp for the tap-in.
There were good opportunities at both ends through the third quarter, and Spain were gifted a numerical advantage when ill-discipline from the Dutch saw them reduced to nine men just as the quarter ended. The Spanish quickly gave up that advantage with a green card of their own, and when a professional foul in the 51st minute earned them a yellow card and gave the Dutch a penalty corner, it was Janssen who stepped up to put the game beyond doubt with another drag flick.
KOOKABURRAS ON A HIGH
Earlier, Michael Robson celebrated his 150th cap, but it wasn’t to be a fairytale result for the Irishman as Australia secured a comfortable 5-0 win.
Ireland started with good energy and matched their opposition for circle entries through the opening quarter, but the Aussies gained the ascendancy as the match progressed. Tom Craig opened the scoring for the Kookaburras in the 17th minute, deflecting in from directly in front of the keeper.
Jeremy Hayward added a well-placed drag flick in the 22nd minute, and Ky Willott got a stick in front of the Irish defenders for a deflection to round off a stunning team goal in the 25th minute. Australia were 3-0 ahead at half-time and looked threatening. The Kookaburras kept the pressure on through the second half, but it was only in the 43rd minute that Nathan Ephraums extended their lead even further, picking up an awkward aerial ball into the Irish circle and using the 5m rule to work himself into a position for a clean strike.
The Irish then enjoyed a couple of good attacks but failed to find the back of the net before Ky Willot rounded off the scoring for Australia in the 57th minute, getting his body into a good position to complete a difficult deflection.